Thursday, May 16, 2019

Johnstown (PA) Books

It has been harder to find time to write on this blog between work, working on my book, and life in general.  Tonight I did have time to write about some of the books that have been helpful to me in writing my book.    

The first series of books I would like to discuss is Randy Whittle's two part series on Johnstown's History.  The first part covers the aftermath of the 1889 flood starting in 1895 up to the period right after the 1936 flood.  The second begins with the Johnstown steel strike in 1937 up to the aftermath of the 1977 flood.  Published in 2005 and 2007, both volumes are meticulously researched and engaging reading.

The second book I would like to discuss is For Bread with Butter: The Life-Worlds of East Central Europeans in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1890-1940 by Ewa Morawska.  The book chronicles the experiences and struggles of East Central Europeans in Johnstown.  It covers the conditions of Balkan Slavs, Austrians, Hungarians, Polish, Romanians, Russians, and Czechoslovakians in their home countries and here in Johnstown.  It is meticulously researched and very enlightening but it is very academic.

Johnstown: The Story of a Unique Valley is an edited book with different chapters written by different authors in their own specialties.  This book has been very helpful in researching Johnstown's past, its flora and fauna, and other issues relevant to the area.  It was written in 1985 along with Morawska's book.  

Of course no listing of books about Johnstown would be complete without David McCullogh's book about the Johnstown Flood.  There have been many other books on the topic including a recent one by Al Roker but his was the one that was able to interview some of the last survivors of the tragedy.  You can vote for this version or any other nonfiction book you want on my list of the greatest nonfiction books of all time.

Another book I found useful was Johnstown's Nineteenth Century African American History Primer by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.  It chronicles how the city was one of the stops on the underground railroad, how this group was settled by African Americans before 1850, and how it was changed by the Civil War and the great flood of 1889.  It is not available on

The last book I would like to discuss is not really a book.  It is a Master's Thesis titled A History of Homelessness- A Geography of Control: The Production of Order and Marginality in Johnstown, Pennsylvania by Donald M. Mitchell.  It was written in 1989 and chronicles the housing issues in the city.  It is available in the Pennsylvania Room of the Cambria County Library in Johnstown.

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